Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Pie and pav help Kiwi chef to Michelin star

Auckland-born chef Matt Lambert (above right), pictured with Kiwi culinary icon Peter Gordon.
Auckland-born chef Matt Lambert (above right), pictured with Kiwi culinary icon Peter Gordon.

Kiwi chef Matt Lambert's New York restaurant has received the ultimate accolade- a Michelin star.

The Musket Room, which serves New Zealand-inspired dishes, has received a star in the annual Michelin Guide for New York City restaurants, released this week.

It joins an elite list of restaurants not only in the Big Apple but also around the world, and is a big boost for Lambert, who opened the restaurant only a few months ago.

Lambert grew up in Henderson, West Auckland, and is a former student of Liston College. He started washing dishes when he was 14 at a restaurant owned by another Westie, chef Garry Bates.

Lambert told the Weekend Herald this year his dishes were heavily influenced by the tastes and memories he grew up with.

"I've a couple of dishes based on the fact that I used to go fishing for eels in Henderson Creek every weekend," he said.

"We used to pick wild boysenberries [there] and in the same creek there would be wild leeks growing."

Lambert said he was proud to show off a little bit of where he was from.

The restaurant's menu includes a nod to the Kiwi classic steak and cheese pie, and New Zealand red deer with flavours of gin for a main.

For dessert, there's the passionfruit pavlova with strawberries and cream.

The wine list also boasts brands from our shores.

OpenTable - a website that reviews restaurants across the US - has rated The Musket Room four and a half stars out of five. There have been 99 reviews so far.

One customer, who gave their experience five stars, wrote: "This little gem ... boasts inventive dishes that are sure to satisfy, with all the New Zealand flair you'd expect."

The Michelin star system is the most commonly recognised guide around the world. Having a star next to your name sets you up in the culinary world and, in a city like New York, will see bookings soar.

Fellow Kiwi and MasterChef NZ judge Josh Emett achieved four Michelin stars while working with Hell's Kitchen chef Gordon Ramsay in London, New York and Melbourne.

Wellington-based Adam Newell - who worked in Britain with the famous Roux family at Le Gavroche London - earned a Michelin star while he was head chef of Fulham Road Restaurant.

- Additional reporting: Amanda Linnell

- NZ Herald

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